Places that aren't places will lose money.

I possibly will be working two jobs and an internship soon. I already never post on this thing, but I am learning a lot more about urban and suburban issues at my internship. I’m sorry I can’t keep up! I’m focusing on learning more skills at this internship, not just writing everything down.

Sprawl costs have been my new research topic here at GVMC. The data I’ve found for how living in sprawling communities is more expensive per person isn’t the most convincing data, because” cost” can’t be defined very easily. It’s plausable to gather tax data and project it over an amount of years, but taxes change yearly.  Percentages of income obviously vary by income.  the 227 billion dollars Downs and Burchell claim the US spends on sprawl over 25 years isn’t much per year. But then again, that figure is ignoring private and residential costs.

Taking a look at this from overhead, the factor that sticks out the most is the automobile. Owning an automobile unquestionably costs thousands a year.  If you look at this page from the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index, you can see that in Detroit, it may be just as cheap or cheaper to live in a sprawling area, but if you add in transportation costs, it becomes immediately more expensive to live in unplanned territories.  This is largely because of cars. Even driving less will significantly decrease amount of fuel used and maintenance needed.

Let’s remember the price of place. How much is a place like this worth?

 TODLet’s face it: this may have cost a lot of money to build, but now it’s a tourist destination. It’s going to make a lot of money from now on. Just from being a cool place. Big box stores make money as franchises, but there is no tourist attraction to make money based on place. It’s all based on the products. Those big box stores are thus subject to the housing  demographic patterns, not vice versa. And what is guiding the residential demographic? The wind? Nothing? Places that aren’t places will lose money.

Housing, too, seems cheaper in the suburbs–which is happy for people who want to own a home and not rent. But actually, suburban areas are subsidized: even though suburbanites pay on average $350 less than apartment dwellers on municipal costs, they should be paying over $1000 more. Why does it always have to be single-family home vs. apartment? Can’t there be other options for dwelling ownership in better-planned areas?

So when we’re thinking about what needs to be done to certain places, why we’d want to be certain places, or how we should rank places, maybe we should take into consideration as many aspects as possible. Aesthetics, economics, environmental impact, social impact, and all the possibilities of that area.


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